Westover airlifts 26 tons of aid to Nicaragua

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A training mission doubled as a humanitarian relief effort for Reserve Airmen from the 439th Airlift Wing, Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, as 13 Airmen delivered 26 tons of cargo to Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport, Nicaragua, June 10.

This Denton Amendment mission delivered one Ford Horton Ambulance, a Ford 8000 Pierce Pumper and a Ford C-8000 Pirsch Pumper on behalf of the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners (W/NP) of the Americas Inc.. The W/NP is a humanitarian services organization that implements programs in both Wisconsin and Nicaragua.

With 15 established fire stations throughout Nicaragua, the W/NP recognized nearly 50 years ago the importance of assisting a country that doesn't manufacture fire trucks or ambulances. On average, three emergency vehicles are shipped each year, as well as other necessary firefighter equipment such as boots, helmets and air packs.

The newly delivered vehicles will be placed under the control of Nicaraguan governmental agencies, such as the Bomberos, and will service more than 250,000 men, women and children. The Bomberos maintains an emergency center for the country and also provides fire service for the capital city of Managua. A total of 29 fire trucks and 13 ambulances, with a collective value of more than $1 million have already been delivered using the Denton Amendment Program.

The 1985 Denton Amendment allows the delivery of donated humanitarian relief on military aircraft with available space, according to the Defense Department. This program saves humanitarian aid agencies untold dollars in transportation costs, which could be debilitating for small, nonprofit groups.

Airmen regularly take part in humanitarian missions like this. The Air Force has hauled millions of pounds of relief cargo around the world free of charge to the donors, according to the Defense Department, which administers the Denton Program with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

"I can't remember how many of these I've done," said Master Sgt. Michael Pasternak, 337th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "We fly them so regularly that it's hard to keep track."